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How to Talk to Parents or Grandparents About COVID-19

Now that the Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) has led to school closures, reduced store hours, canceled events, and a worldwide call for social distancing, many people who didn’t take the virus’ impact seriously are suddenly realizing its true magnitude.

But, unfortunately, there are some who are still not as vigilant about protecting themselves and others from the virus. And for many, the most stressful part of dealing with this health crisis may be convincing our grandparents, parents, or older relatives to stay home.

While some have taken COVID-19 quite seriously, others continue to engage in the same activities they did pre-pandemic. These activities can include going to church, taking shopping trips to the mall, and even attending a book club meeting at a friend’s home.

A new survey shows that baby boomers are the least likely to worry about contracting the virus. So why is this group, who is one of most likely to experience complications from COVID-19, blowing caution to the wind?

It is likely due to a wide range of factors, as varied as to where they’re getting their information from, to simply not liking being told what to do. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to continue having conversations with them about their health and well-being.

Here are some tips that hopefully will help make these difficult conversations a little easier.

Don’t judge them. Avoid telling them what you think they should do. Come from a place of caring by focusing on how you feel. Instead of saying, “You need to stay home, so you don’t put yourself and others at risk,” say, “I’m worried about your health and the health of others you may come in contact with if you go shopping today.” This thereby eliminates any power and control dynamics that might be perceived and empowers them to make the choice for themselves to limit their out of home travel.

Focus on how they can help others. It’s common for our grandparents, parents and older loved ones to put the needs of others before themselves. This virtue may be a means of highlighting the consequences of their actions in a way that they may not have previously considered. Perhaps talk about how their actions may inadvertently impact others who are potentially more at risk of becoming severely ill from contracting the virus.

Remind them that they can still remain socially active by using technology. Encourage them to utilize the video calling feature on their smartphones or tablets to connect with you and their friends. Teach them how to use such devices if they may feel uncomfortable with this technology.

Use facts and figures from reliable sources. When trying to impress upon your loved ones the essential need to stay at home during this unprecedented period, be sure you’re keeping up with the latest news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local health departments. And, please remember to share these news sources with them so they can stay equally informed.

Visit cdc.gov/COVID19 to keep up with the latest news and recommendations regarding the virus. To find out more about what Tanner Health System is doing to address COVID19, visit tanner.org.

Tanner Health System, Behavioral Health Care

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